I really enjoy publishing a post on a Sunday but was not able to do so this weekend. I got a little backed up over last week due to a good friend that had a serious accident and requires my help for a while. Even so, I will try to keep things rolling along here at Adventures In Running. To change the mood, let’s talk about some of the more lighthearted running events and maybe embarrass myself just a little. By now you are aware that runners are a “different” class of athlete. Just show up at any well publicized marathon and you will understand what I mean. Some runners will be dressed in spandex body suits, clown outfits or wearing body paint. Others will wear virtually anything while making that 26.2 mile trek. Try attending a Christmas race where finding your friend on the course can be an exercise in futility. It’s not easy finding one particular Santa when there are hundreds jingling down the street. Many of us mix it up now and then by deviating from the racing norms. I have run my share of races that were not exactly ordinary and you really should leave your self-consciousness at gear check if you plan on participating.
I am a big fan of Halloween races. It’s always a good excuse to wear something outrageous without drawing too much attention. The past two years I have run the Skeleton Skamper 5k and 1/2 marathon in my self created superhero outfit. If you plan on running a Halloween event please keep in mind, it’s very easy to overheat when trying to complete 13.1 miles in a full spandex body suit, black cape and utility belt adorn with a giant letter “H”. Yes, I am “The Hornet” once a year.
Last year on a very humid evening on Chicago’s lakefront, the inaugural Chicago Undie Dash 5k took place. It’s a good thing runners are in pretty good shape or this could have been a 300 person optical nightmare. Race officials made sure that all running attire was within the bounds of “tasteful” and reserve the right to remove any runner who is not family friendly. Fortunately, I did not witness any wardrobe malfunctions of Janet Jackson proportions. After completing the race you are directed to walk six blocks on busy downtown streets in your underwear to a restaurant which hosts a banquet and beer for all the runners. This Fruit of the Loom inspired stroll was a new experience for most of us. But hey, I’ve seen worse in Chicago.
Put the children to bed and stop reading if you are under 18 before we talk about this next race. Ready? Okay. I didn’t know, until the past couple years, that there is an entire subculture of runners who race “unrestricted”. Nudist colonies around the country host 5 and 10k events all the time and while I was visiting my sister in a Dallas suburb your extroverted and somewhat judgementally challenged host made it a point to investigate the Skinnydipper Sun Run 5K. Upon arrival you are flagged in by people wearing no more than a disturbingly large smile. Once inside the clubhouse you can register for the race and begin work on your business skills, DIRECT EYE CONTACT! You might ask, “My gosh man, where do they pin your bib?” No worries, a grease penciled number on your chest works just fine. That made me feel much more at ease until I wondered, “Wait! What are they using as a pull tab??!!”
“When in Rome”…………..So, I decided to go for a warm-up run still wearing shorts. Soon I realized that this was a trail race complete with washout, cactus and fire ant hills all along the course just to make it interesting. After a mile or so into my practice run I decided to lose the shorts and finish in just my IPod, sunglasses and shoes. To my surprise I liked it! Believe it or not you can run a little faster in the buff.
After socializing for a while, the race was about to begin. Don’t be fooled, these people are REAL runners and treat any race as a serious competition. The gun went off and I immediately fell into 4th place out of 175. After a few minutes it was easy to forget that I was running in a situation where a stray tree branch could change my name from Dave to Diane in the blink of an eye. After some difficult running, I finished 10th overall and first in my division. Showers are available after the race and they encourage you to use the pool and hot tub until the catered dinner is served. The quality and quantity of food was phenomenal for a $25 race. Included were a delicious barbecue and cake for dessert that was as tasty as it was visually appealing.
The awards ceremony took place in the clubhouse immediately following dinner. Imagine standing in a large room full of people without a stitch of clothing waiting for your medal. They called my name and I went up to receive my award AND, to my chagrin, a picture of me wearing my medal. I suppose now the country will sleep soundly knowing I can never run for elected office.
As I was getting ready to depart a woman in her early 40′s comes flying up in a golf cart explaining that I shouldn’t leave and must stay for the hash run and dance that evening. Maybe next time I will take her up on her unconventional offer but for now it was time to call it a day.
Later in the week I would like to finish this topic with “Are You Crazy? Part2″. Please feel free to comment or give suggestions on any unusual races you are familiar with or may have participated in so that I may research and include them. Until then, run fast, be a little crazy and by all means, have fun.© Copyright 2012 The Hornet, All rights Reserved. Written For: Adventures In Running